by Ellen Curham
It’s hard to find a city more beautiful than Venice. One of Italy’s most recognisable places, it features a huge amount of historical, cultural and educational relevance and is one of the country’s top tourist destinations.
Made up of an incredible 117 islands surrounded by canals, its charming gondolas and lavish palaces are some of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Venice. And while exploring the city by water is a must, make sure to step inside some of its stunning buildings, too. In Venice you’ll find a collection of some of Italy’s best museums and we have put together the top five that you need to check out.
This gorgeous gallery is home to some very important pre-19th-century Venetian art. The pieces are displayed chronologically and there are no text blocks so rent an audio headset if you would like to find out more about them. Here you’ll see some world-famous works in the flesh including ‘Vitruvian Man‘ by Leonardo da Vinci and ‘Perspective View with Portico’ by Canaletto.
Located in the sestieri of Dorsodur, the Gallerie dell’Accademia is open every day but closes at 2pm on Mondays. Full price tickets are €12 but free for under-18s as well as some teachers, students, journalists and other named professions.
Basilica di San Marco
One of the most show-stopping buildings on the islands, St Mark’s Basilica is technically a cathedral as opposed to a museum but is nevertheless home of a host of beautiful treasures and amazing artworks. Nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro, this is one of the most celebrated works of Byzantine-style architecture.
Inside there are decorative alters, sculptures, paintings and mosaics with gold glistening from almost every direction. It is open every day from around 9.30am; however, it’s a place of worship so is sometimes closed off to the general public for masses and other religious events. Entrance tickets to the Bell Tower—which offers an awesome panoramic view—are €8.
One of Venice’s famous gothic landmarks, the Doge’s Palace is named after the Doge of Venice who ruled the city. It’s now a museum. Explore courtrooms, opulent private apartments, great halls and a museum dedicated to the building itself and how it was constructed, the Museum dell’Opera, with all of these areas covered in incredible and ornate works of art.
General tickets to visit Palazzo Ducale cost €19. However for €20, you can avail of the Secret Itineraries Tour, which covers chambers and spaces that are relevant to the city’s political history, or the Hidden Doge’s Treasure Tour, where you will learn about various items on display in the Palace.
Located directly on the banks of the Grand Canal, this gorgeous baroque house (the ‘Ca’ is short for casa) is a fascinating museum that focuses on Venice during the 18th century. Here you’ll find artworks, furniture and more from that time period displayed in the way it would have been back then.
This is a well-run museum and is often cited as a favourite among visitors to the city. Ca’Rezzonico gives you a true feel for the luxury of 18th-century Venice over its three floors and is not to be missed. It is open every day and tickets cost €10 for general entry.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Boasting a seriously impressive collection of modern art, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection can be a nice break from all the grandeur of the baroque and renaissance pieces that are associated with Venice. It’s named after the American collector who lived in the residence there; a proponent of 20th century art, it was Peggy Guggenheim who discovered Jackson Pollock and a number of other artists.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is closed on Tuesdays and tickets are €15 for general adult entry. This museum is also home to visiting exhibitions so it’s worth checking out the website for upcoming events.
Where to stay?
Dimora il Veliero Romantico is a small hostel that feels like a B&B, set in a handy location near the train station, so you can get oriented as soon as you arrive in Venice. Closer to St Mark’s Square, you’ll find Generator Venice with a picturesque view over the lagoon. They have free Wi-Fi, budget-friendly meals and suitably decadent décor.